National News

Project Prelude bringing the gift of music to elementary students

Posted November 28, 2017 12:08 p.m. EST

— A group of high schoolers in Beaverton are sharing the gift of music with elementary students who otherwise may not be able to afford it.

Project Prelude offers free music lessons to elementary students. The teachers are volunteers and all high school students.

Catlin Gabel senior Isabelle Zheng helped start Project Prelude, and when she offered her services to teachers at McKinley Elementary, teachers said it sounded too good to be true.

"I said, 'Are you sure? Like, every week for a whole year teaching kids who've never touched a violin before, are you sure?'" McKinley teacher DeeAnn Sands recalled to FOX 12.

The program uses instruments left over from orchestra programs that had been cut, and there was never a problem finding students interested to learn, since private lessons are so expensive.

Sands said the young students have loved the immersion to a classical style.

"You can see the kids and how happy they are to be here because they know they wouldn't have this opportunity," she explained.

The biggest question facing organizers was whether Project Prelude could attract enough high school volunteers to make it all happen. After all, facing a room full of kids armed with violins isn't easy.

Phyliss Liao is a senior at Westview High who plays with the Portland Youth Philharmonic. That's where she heard about Project Prelude and knew she had to be part of quenching that musical thirst.

"At first the kids are kind of wild, but if you have a good balance of fun and strict it works together," she explained to FOX 12. "If we can give them a free pathway to explore that opportunity then I'm down."

"Music in general, if kids get good exposure to it, builds confidence, self-esteem, critical thinking skills," Sands added. "There's such a long list that music instruction builds in children. This is the beginning."

For its efforts to help young students in the community Project Prelude has been awarded the FOX 12 Les Schwab Tire Centers Be The Change award.

Anyone wishing to support the program can visit